A single mother of six children from Stockton, California, may spend time behind bars for selling homemade ceviche through a food group on social media.
Mariza Reulas and a dozen others from Facebook group 209 Food Spot face misdemeanor charges for attempting to sell food and engage in business without a permit, WPVI reports.
Reulas says she joined 209 Food Spot -- a Facebook group in which members shared recipes, organized potlucks and sometimes sold their food -- a few years ago.
"Somebody would be like, 'Oh I don't have anything to trade you, but I would love to buy a plate,'" Reulas said of her ceviche, which is a dish made with citrus juice and raw fish.
One year later, court documents reveal an undercover investigator from San Joaquin County contacted Reulas asking to buy her ceviche, leading to the charges.
"It was just, like unreal, that they were saying you could face up to a year in jail," remarked a shocked Reulas.
Many on social media support Reulas, saying they think the charges are "ridiculous."
"There are serious criminals running the streets that they could be focusing their time on but they are trying to send this single mom to jail for selling food," wrote one user on WPVI's Facebook page. "This is horrible."
According to San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Kelly McDaniel, the punishment is appropriate.
Selling food without permits means the facility in which it is prepared has not undergone health department inspection, which can be dangerous.
"It creates a risk to the public,” McDaniel told KTXL.
The deputy district attorney added 209 Food Spot's actions was also unfair to business owners who did get permits to make and sell their food.
San Joaquin County had reportedly been investigating 209 Food Spot for a while as it knew most of the members did not have permits. The county says it initially sent a warning to the group before pressing charges.
Unlike the others charged, Reulas will be going to trial after she declined to accept a plea deal for three years of probation.
To Reulas, the prospect of going to jail and leaving her six children without a parent is a real and frightening one.
She says every court appearance also terrifies her 6-year-old son, Justice.
"The night before he always asks like, 'Are you going to come back?'” said Reulas.